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November 2006 RNR

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November 2006

IWPR’s Research News Reporter is distributed monthly to highlight informative, innovative, and sometimes controversial research related to women and their families. Each selection includes a short description of the research and either a link to the report or a citation.

  1. The Economic Security of Older Women and Men in Michigan, Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and California
  2. "Misinformed Consent: The Medical Accuracy of State-Developed Abortion Counseling Materials"
  3. AAUP Faculty Gender Equity Indicators 2006
  4. State and Child Care Assistance Policies 2006: Gaps Remain, with New Challenges Ahead

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1. The Economic Security of Older Women and Men in Michigan, Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and California

Tori Finkle, Heidi Hartmann, Sunhwa Lee, and Barbara Gault

Institute for Women’s Policy Research

October 2006

This series of fact sheets by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research examines the economic well-being of seniors in Michigan, Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and California.  Using data from the 2002-2005 Annual Social and Economic Supplement of the Current Population Survey, the fact sheets provide demographic and financial data at the state level for men and women aged 65 and older.  These fact sheets illuminate a common story for older women and people of color in the United States, despite differences among the states examined, and they point to the critical role Social Security benefits play in the lives of older Americans.

IWPR’s analysis shows that:

  • Nearly 90 percent of Americans 65 and older collect Social Security benefits.
  • Social Security benefits make up the largest portion of older women’s income in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and California, and the majority of their income in Michigan, Florida, and New Jersey.
  • A significant portion of seniors continue to work for pay in all of the states, ranging from 12 percent of women in Pennsylvania, California, and Michigan, and 18 percent of men in Florida to 16 percent of women and 24 percent of men in Virginia.
  • Half or more of women in the selected states live alone; they are either widowed, divorced, or were never married.
  • African American women and Hispanic women in California, Florida, and New Jersey, and African American women in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, are the most likely to be poor and the least likely to have income from assets like savings accounts and stocks and bonds.

Findings from these fact sheets reveal a great need for policy that addresses the economic security of older Americans, and particularly those who are most vulnerable to poverty in old age.

The full fact sheets can be found at
http://www.iwpr.org/pdf/Michigan_D467.pdf,
http://www.iwpr.org/pdf/Virginia_D468.pdf,
http://www.iwpr.org/pdf/Pennsylvania_D470.pdf,
http://www.iwpr.org/pdf/Florida_D469.pdf,
http://www.iwpr.org/pdf/NewJersey_D472.pdf
http://www.iwpr.org/pdf/California_D471.pdf

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2. "Misinformed Consent: The Medical Accuracy of State-Developed Abortion Counseling Materials"

Chinué Turner Richardson and Elizabeth Nash

Guttmacher Policy Review

Fall 2006, Volume 9, Number 4

This article analyzes abortion counseling materials developed under the direction of state legislatures across the United States. Such materials have been mandated under the medical ethics principle of informed consent, which is intended to provide patients with the unbiased and accurate information necessary to make sound judgments regarding the medical care they receive.  An investigation of all fifty states in July 2006 found that twenty-two state health departments had developed materials under state mandates. The information provided in these materials was compared to recent medical findings and research about the effects of abortion, specifically related to the risk of breast cancer, psychological impact, and fetal pain.

The main findings of the investigation include:

  • Six states provide information about an increased risk of breast cancer from induced abortion. Despite the National Cancer Institute’s categorical statement that no such link exists, five states claim that the medical evidence regarding a link is inconclusive.
  • Nineteen states include information about the psychological effects of abortion. Despite documentation of the wide range of emotions, including positive ones, that result from abortion, seven of these states provide materials that consider negative mental health outcomes exclusively.
  • Although medical studies have found that the physical and sensory structures necessary to perceive pain do not develop until between 23-30 weeks of gestation, five states provide information stating that the fetus has the ability to feel pain as early as 12-20 weeks of gestation.

The authors conclude that although much of the information provided by abortion-counseling materials is aligned with scientific findings, some content disregards medical ethics of informed consent by providing misleading or incorrect information. This information is designed to discourage women from having abortions. They argue that by shaping materials to support an anti-abortion goal, policymakers and public health officials have privileged politics over public health and principles of informed consent.

The full article is available at http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/gpr/09/4/gpr090406.pdf

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3. AAUP Faculty Gender Equity Indicators 2006

Martha S. West and John W. Curtis

American Association of University Professors

Fall 2006

In their new report, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), provides data on faculty gender equity on America’s college and university campuses. The AAUP has been tracking women’s progress in higher education since the enactment of Title IX in 1972. Using data from the AAUP’s own Faculty Compensation Survey and the Department of Education on a large number of diverse institutions, the AAUP developed a new set of gender equity measures to illustrate women’s status in academia. The authors identify four indicators, including employment status, tenure status, full professor rank, and average salary. The report provides data from the 2005-2006 academic year for individual schools of different institution types (i.e., doctoral, masters, baccalaureate, and associate degree-granting institutions), as well as data for the nation as a whole.

The study finds:

  • In the 2005-2006 academic year, women comprised 48 percent of part-time and 39 percent of full-time faculty positions in all universities. Thirty-four percent of all full-time faculty members at doctoral institutions were women, and 66 percent were men.
  • Thirty percent of all full-time women faculty are employed in non-tenure track positions compared to 18 percent of full-time male faculty members. While women occupied 45 percent of tenure-track appointments, they only account for 31 percent of tenured positions.
  • Women held 24 percent of full-professor positions—the highest paid and most prestigious in academia— at all institution types.
  • Across all employment ranks and all types of institutions, the average salary earned by women faculty members was 81 percent of that earned by men.

The authors conclude that gender equity in faculty appointments has not progressed at the same rate as women’s achievements in higher education over the past several decades. The data raise many questions as to why gender disparities persist in academia, and the authors hope that their analyses will invigorate collaborative and meaningful explorations of the subject at the local level.

The full article is available at http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/pubsres/research/geneq2006

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4. State and Child Care Assistance Policies 2006: Gaps Remain, with New Challenges Ahead

Karen Schulman and Helen Blank

National Women’s Law Center

September 2006

This report by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) provides follow-up on previous analyses of state child care assistance policies conducted by the National Women’s Law Center in 2005 and the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) in 2001.  The NWLC conducted interviews with state child care administrators from all 50 states and the District of Columbia in February 2006, focusing on four policy areas related to child care assistance—income eligibility limits, waiting lists, parent co-payments, and reimbursement rates.  They then compare their results with those of their 2005 report and with the 2001 analysis by CDF to draw out any changes in the provision of child care assistance.  The report shows mixed results across states and policy areas, and emphasizes that much more must be done to improve access to childcare among low-income families.

Findings from the report include:

  • Income eligibility levels for child care assistance in 2006 remain low—200 percent of the household poverty level in three-quarters of the states and 150 percent or lower in one-third of the states
  • Between 2005 and 2006, only two-thirds of states increased their income eligibility limits for child care assistance sufficiently to keep pace with or surpass inflation.
  • In 2006, approximately one-third of states had either put a freeze on the intake of new families or had families on waiting lists. This is an improvement from 2005 and 2001, when greater numbers of states denied access to eligible families, as a result of funding shortages.
  • In over two-thirds of states, families paid the same or lower percentage of their income in co-payments for child care in 2006 than in 2005.  Yet, in over one-third to one-half of the states, depending on their income, families paid a greater percentage of their income in co-payments in 2006 than in 2001.
  • Only nine states in 2006 had their maximum state reimbursement rates set at the level recommended in federal regulations (the 75th percentile of current market rates).

While some states showed small improvements, the NWLC concludes that the current services available to low income families remain inadequate in far too many cases around the country.  The report notes that the 2006 reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program introduces stricter work requirements for families on welfare, increasing the number of families that will need child care assistance, and emphasizes the importance of strong state investment in child care policies for low-income families both on and off of welfare.

The full report can be found at: http://www.nwlc.org/pdf/StateChildCareAssistancePoliciesReport2006.pdf

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